A workcrew of 35 Bond University students formed their own ‘mud army’ to help Laidley residents clean up in the wake of the Australia Day floods.
A busload of 35 Bond student volunteers headed up to Laidley earlier this month armed with cleaning equipment donated by Bunnings, and set up their base of operations at the local Scout Hall. From here, smaller crews were sent out to help residents remove barrow-loads of mud still lying under high-set homes and across lawns and gardens.
“It was quite different to helping out during the initial emergency phase,” said 21-year-old student Harriet Johnston who volunteers as Advocacy Director for Bond University’s Student Association.
“The major cleanup was done by the official Mud Army and various other agencies in the days immediately following the floods but there’s still a lot of work to be done for individual residents and I think they feel a bit forgotten now that the emergency crews have gone home.
“Another student – Caitlin Murdock – liaised with the local authorities to ensure that our workcrew could be directed to where they were most needed. From the Scout Hall, we dispatched small teams to cart wheelbarrow loads of mud out from under one house where it was starting to rot the timber beams and another couple of crews working with elderly residents to salvage their gardens.
“We also had a team stationed at the Scout Hall going through two container-loads of donated clothes and household items, putting everything in order so they can be accessed and distributed to those in need.”
The working bee proved to be an eye-opener for many of the students.
“You see the floods on the television news when they’re happening but you don’t realise the long-term impact on people’s lives,” said Harriet, who is in the final year of her International Relations/Law degree.
“For instance, I didn’t realise that there are people still living in temporary accommodation at the Laidley Showgrounds and it could be weeks before they can get back into their homes.
“On a slightly brighter note, a number of international students – from the US, Hong Kong, China and Germany – responded to our call for volunteers so it was great to be able to show them how Aussies pull together in a time of crisis.”
Bond University’s Student Philanthropy Council promotes the ethos of ‘giving back’ by managing an on-going program of student volunteer projects throughout the year. These range from close-to-home programs such as their regular visits to The Terraces Aged Care facility at Varsity Lakes and GECKO clean-up operations on The Spit through to far-flung missions working with remote indigenous communities in Kununurra.